That there is Ian Enggasser in front of Palookaville Chili, which he opened about a year and a half ago with his own money and what he could scrape together from friends and family. He already had the most important ingredients: plenty of heart, soul and guts.
Enggasser piled it all into a kettle smack dab in one of this town's oldest, grittiest and funkiest neighborhoods: Ohio City. Then he let it simmer until he had one kick-ass mess o' chili.
I had a bowl of his hot pork chili for dinner last night with a big ol' dollop of sour cream and a couple packages of those delicious little oyster crackers that don't bear the slightest resemblance to an oyster but are more like a saltine cracker that's shaped like a mutant dumpling.
It was a good thing. It was a bad thing. Because while this chili totally rocked my face off, it also ruined my own crappy beans/ground meat chili forever. Yeah, yeah.
Palookaville also serves up meatless chili and corn bread and burritos and beans and sammies and some other stuff like (ahem) MILKSHAKES.
This next part fills me with so much joy that I'm practically taking my pants off.
On Monday, Sept. 24 at 10 p.m. EST (that's tomorrow you, deadbeats), the Food Network will debut its new show $24 in 24, wherein a goofy host goes to a city and buys breakfast, lunch and dinner for 24 bucks. The first episode was filmed here in CLE.
Yes, Engasser and his groovy little chili joint will be one of the eateries on the premier of $24 in 24, which is exactly perfect and righteous and proof that sometimes the good guys win despite all the miserable bastards who are trying to take the world apart with sheer negative karma, endless bellyaching and general candy-assery.
When I was in Palookaville Chili yesterday to interview Enggasser for a different story, the place was pretty quiet. Methinks things will liven up plenty over the next couple of weeks.
Life. Is. Beautiful.
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